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Google founder wanted phones banned from HQ

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Google co-founder Sergey Brinn left the Soviet Union when he was five years old, but was able to communicate something of the Stakhanovite work ethic to his co-founder US-born Larry Page.

Page wanted no telephones to be installed near the employees, lest they waste valuable company time making phone calls. This, and more, we learn from a New York Times feature on the company published on Sunday.

The boy wonders Page and Brinn created Google as a research project at Stanford University, but when the two scamps entered the real world, their dorm room eccentricities continued.

It was Page, we learn, who ordered telephones banned from the Google office as he thought they posed a potential distraction to the cubicle-bound staff. He was thwarted by local safety regulations, and as the Times reports "The building now has a phone system."

In the article, Page and Brinn are pictured in the now traditional setting - surrounded by infantile baubles and colorful toys - an innocent Michael Jackson world, where a magical Segway ride is a grasp away.

Only now, the boyish indulges continue under the watchful eye of avuncular child-minder Eric Schmidt, who has been recruited to act as CEO and call bedtime.

The CEO has had to convince the founders of the Google core mission statement at times, naysaying some of the founders' more whimsical obsessions:

"Schmidt recently had to scramble to convince them," the Times reports, "that there was no immediate reason for Google to enter the space-tethering business, a popular techie idea for low-cost space launchings?.

Google as a satellite company? Launching the Googleworld into orbit? This is nuttier than we could have imagined.

This, we would have never have guessed - so to the authors John Markoff and Gregg Zachary, we must extend our thanks for this very telling detail. (We hope to see "Google in Space" blogged very highly by this time tomorrow, perhaps reaching the Top Six of Daypop's all-important blog rankings)

We made it up

But this whacky image may be synthetic: at the very least, it has surely been carefully cultivated. We'll tell you why.

A recent Wired magazine feature had a terrific visual spread with Page and Brinn kitted out in New York CBGB's suits, as members of Blondie's backing band, circa the Parallel Lines. (With Larry doing a very convincing turn as Chris Stein).

When I met Page at a party recently, I asked which one of them came up with this brilliant idea, and was shocked to hear that it was neither.

"That was the stylist. From Wired, or whoever. We don't have time for that stuff, we're busy," Larry told me.

Dude, you're no Druid

Reeling from this revelation, we turn to the claim that Page and Brinn chose Schmidt to lead the company out of Narnia because the former Novell boss was a real, er head:

"He was the only candidate who had been to Burning Man," the Times says Brinn, (before explaining, helpfully, that Burning Man is "a counterculture techno-arts festival held annually in the Nevada desert.")

Their presence at the festival sounds extremely far-fetched. If there were three executives less likely to stand naked in the sun and take drugs for a week, letting it all hang out, it would be these three boffins.

If the executives can't even think of an idea for a photo-shoot for an hour, how can you expect us to believe they're gone-to-hell shamen who take a week off to get ape crazy? This is clearly information with a synthetic quality to it.

And we don't buy it.

The Times piece can be found here. As with so many adoring mainstream articles it avoids the tough questions you, Register readers have been asking the past week.

Such as, a) how does Google deal with intelligence and law enforcement agencies, when it has the most valuable intel asset in the world; b) what is its policy regarding the sale of privileged and immensely valuable information to private companies; c) Why does it rig PageRank, by accident or design, to conceal pejorative search terms about itself; d) why is it so keen for bloggers to influence, and thus discredit its trademarked PageRank algorithms; e) how come the slippery News exercise leaves so many of you - both as punters and marketing folk - feeling cheated; and finally, f) why is it so secretive about points a) to e) above?

These questions shall be answered soon. It's clear from recent mail that many of you find the Google-blog relationship somewhat creepy.

But for this glimpse into the Google founders nerdvania, this Teletubby, primary-color world, we send thanks to the Times - we are truly grateful. We've learnt alot. ®

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